Ka'au Crater

HARD 427 reviews
#2 of 10 trails in

Ka'au Crater is a 5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

5.0 miles
2020 feet



nature trips

rock climbing

trail running






wild flowers




old growth

over grown



no dogs

This hike is challenging and can be slippery and dangerous. If you don't know how to navigate in the outdoors you should consider another trail that is well-marked OR hike the trail in a counter-clockwise route as far as the waterfall and return the way you came. This is an amazing hike with three waterfalls and gorgeous views of Honolulu, Kaneohe, Kailua, Diamond Head, and Ka'au Crater. This hike is not too challenging until the 3rd waterfall which you climb up to get to the ridge portion of the hike. This is where it got extremely muddy and a bit dangerous. The view from the top of the ridge is incredible! Pack more food and water than you think you'd need, it's very steep and tiring. The trailhead is cleverly hidden behind the mailboxes on left of the road at the end of Waiomao Road which is a right turn off of 10th Street. Get out of your little car and you will see the hand lettered sign on the tree behind the mailboxes. The trail starts DOWN into the streambed / rain forest.

12 minutes ago

we went with locals and they said this was the most beautiful hike they've been on. With that said it was also one of the hardest. There were a lot of swearing, blood, sweat, mode and rain. If you are affraid of heights, scaling waterfalls or getting wet go somewhere else pretty tough but easily most beautiful.

Ka’au did not disappoint. We went on a high wind advisory day which I do not recommend as it was pretty sketchy along the ridge with 30 knots of wind. Bring good grippy shoes and plenty of water. Longer pants would also be helpful as it is unmaintained and some of the fauna is prickly. We found going counterclockwise was the better way to go because overall hiking the waterfalls wasn’t as difficult as it looked but going backwards down may have been hairy.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would suggest it to anyone who is adventurous and athletic.

2 days ago

This hike definitely had accurate reviews.. definitely challenging. I went on a day when it had not rained and it is extremely muddy at the beginning, then goes to dry and crumbly up on the ridge, so the hike is slippery pretty much the entire time. Be sure to wear shoes with some good grip. The views were absolutely amazing and time to hike was about 5-6 hours. Helpful to use this map as there are a couple trails that could lead you in the wrong direction. Overall, definitely unforgettable!

3 days ago

This is a very difficult hike. Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced.
I am in decent shape, not a navy seal by any means but have strong legs.
You will need to pull yourself up some rope climbs and lower yourself down on ropes as well.
After the third waterfall is where it gets a little crazy but also impressive!
Beware the wind on the top of the crater, there is not a lot of room and the wind can certainly push you around a bit.
It’s slippery!! Very slippery!!
A lot of roots, mud, and slippery rocks.
Pack a couple litres of water and some power snacks!
It’s a very challenging but also beautiful hike if the clouds are gone!
Took us about 5hrs30min

4 days ago

This hike has everything you need. waterfalls, ridge walking, scrambling, and amazing views. it's a tough hike, but well worth it.

5 days ago

Awesome hike, just a few slippery areas getting to third falls. From there was nice and dry this past Saturday. Take 2-3 liters water and some snacks. Took us about 7 hours for the loop. Lots of people out on the weekends.

5 days ago

LOVED the added versatility of the pipe crossings and climbings. Didn’t particularly care for the lack of hiking etiquette of others on the trail. Most of the trail only has enough space for one person at a time. And other hikers wouldn’t always yield or give the right of way, which makes things a little dangerous. We only went to the first waterfall and it was definitely an adventure. I wouldn’t call this hike hard or technical at all. To the first waterfall there aren’t any big inclines. Only thing I’d consider intermediate level are the narrow ledges. We went on a Saturday and it was VERY crowded.

5 days ago

Amazing hike with incredible views but very tough. I missed the left hand turn back too and ended up hiking along a precarious ridge before looping back to the wa’ahlia ridge parking lot.

5 days ago

Challenging but so very worth it. Perfectly navigable and even though “unmaintained,” still easily done. The rope climbs require a bit or upper body, and I would recommend only to those who are in moderately good or better shape. Don’t underestimate the need for bringing water: a couple of guys I met at the top had just a large water bottle between the two of them. And they were _hurting_.

6 days ago

Pretty adventurous hike, though I only got to do half of it! My hiking buddy and I didn't think to look at the All Trails app for the path down while on the ridge and instead traversed the entire ridge, then went down a different ridge, and ended up in the Waʻahila Ridge State Recreation Area parking lot. No idea how much longer that ended up being mileage wise (if anyone has done this before I would love to hear about your experience!), but would definitely recommend keep an eye out on the left for the trail downward if intending to do the full loop counterclockwise.

10 days ago

This was the jungle adventure hike I’ve been wanting to have since I was 10.

I continued along the ridge to the next northern peak, which I recommend, although this is dangerous.

Best done counterclockwise. All you need is a bottle of water and acceptance of the fact that you’re going to get muddy.

10 days ago

I wouldn't take pets or children on this hike. Lots of sketch ropes you have to use.

11 days ago

Pretty amazing treck. If this is intermediate, I would like to see difficult.

Being a life time out doors man and graduated multiple survival schools...Id say don’t take this on unless you are in extreme physical shape or doing just a part or a hike in camp.

To do in one day muddy with some stops took about 5 hours and we were moving when we moved.

No trail and only say a few folks on the hike and no one on the crater. You can cut the crater out if you want.

The hike up the 3rd waterfall is epic and is about a few hundred feet. A rolled ankle would be tough and shoe choice is key.

Recommend a wet dry shoe. I wore keens and was fine. Waterproof hiking shoe is prob best.

The counter clockwise path was the best choice as we saw all waterfalls first, climbed up vs down. The split is in the creek bed as you follow the pipe when you first start.

One of the best hikes I have been on. Good for kids that are 12-13, but there is some bouldering and significant upper body strength required if you do it all counter clockwise.

Drank 2 liters of water and light snacks.

Do it!

14 days ago

By far my favourite hike so far! Tough climb. Know your limits. If going anti clockwise at the first rope climb turn right to go to the bottom of the first fall. That was my only mistake. Caught an Uber in from Waikiki for around 15-20 bucks each way. If you don't have transport this is much better than 1.5 hours on the bus each way.
Stunning 360° views from the top! A must do!!

17 days ago

New Year's Day hike. We didn't die, but there's definitely spots where you could and be severely injured. Definitely not for the faint of heart and we were very fit, took only short breaks and it still took us 6hrs to travel closer to 6miles. we did crater counter clockwise which is probably the more enjoyable direction. Views were stunning! waterfalls beautiful and running full after some recent rains. Very muddy! Very slippery! bring food and plenty of water and mosquito repellent! Prepare for 5-8hrs. Trail is not maintained.

17 days ago

Great Trail! definitely one of my favorites. I decided to go clockwise so I did the waterfalls at the end.

19 days ago

This is an UNmantained trail. There are no easy steps on this route; even when just along the stream there is always something to step over or around. Many ropes, many rock scrambles. The waterfalls were beautiful and hard (but not trecherous) to climb, but the ridge line is not to be under-represented. The Trail up and along the ridge is definitely treacherous and slow going. More than once you have to trust a rope that you can't see the top of. The ridge line is narrow and tricky especially on the descents. Also, it is more than the five miles listed (at least 6, my GPS quit at the end). Took us 7.5 hours, the last 90 minutes in the dark. I do not recommend this trail unless you are an extremely experienced and fit hiker (which I thought I was!).

20 days ago

Beautiful hike for sure, but not for the faint of heart. Gets pretty intense past the third waterfall. Experienced hikers will be fine, but be prepared to have lots of water and some noms. It was CRAZY muddy, but made for some fun slides down! Took over 5 hours to complete. Will do this hike again for sure as the views are some of the most stunning right past the 3rd waterfall.

21 days ago

Really nice hike! A challenge we loved!We did it two days ago, after rain. It was very slippery and muddy and we got some rain. Rekommend trailshoes and some experience! About 5h 20min, only short breaks.

21 days ago

One of the most adventurous and dynamic hikes on the island. Recommend the ENTIRE hike only if you’re experienced. Be safe

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